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Gang in court for Petrotrade fraud

Petrotrade (Private) Limited almost lost US$8.5 million to a gang of six highly-placed suspected conmen, but after an alert manager smelt a rat, the six walked into a police trap, spent a weekend in the cells and had their bail hearing in court yesterday, just five days after starting the scam.

File picture of Harare Magistrates Court
File picture of Harare Magistrates Court

Enerst Nyanga (49), the MD for Erlon Energy (Private) Ltd, allegedly connived to defraud Petrotrade with Kenneth Machisa (49), Lloyd Katsvamutima (53), Nichodemus Giniyo (52), Cuthbert Wozhele (49) and Tonongei Machingura (57).

Katsvamutima is a dentist, Giniyo is chairman for Expert Agro Services and Machingura is the deputy director, plant and equipment with the District Development Fund

They appeared in court charged with fraud, were granted $8 000 bail each along with the usual conditions, and were remanded out of custody to July 21.

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It is the State’s case that last Wednesday, the six launched their con to defraud Petrotrade of $8.5 million.

Wozhele contacted Petrotrade through its business development director, Mr Wedson Mupambi, and indicated that the six represented Glencore Energy UK Limited who had a consignment of fuel from Splitridge they wanted to sell to Petrotrade, the court heard.

Mr Mupambi was suspicious and immediately notified his superiors who in turn alerted the police.

So the next day, Thursday last week, police detectives posed as Petrotrade employees and phoned the six, saying they were interested in the deal.

Mr Mupambi and the detectives met the six at Trident Building in Harare, the court heard.

The gang produced a release order reference number, Msasa 22/06/2020-6, purporting to be from Glencore Energy UK Ltd instructing the National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC) to release 10 million litres of gas oil, basically diesel fuel, to Splitridge Pvt Ltd.

Gas oil is diesel fuel that, for tax purposes, is designated for use in non-road uses but is identical to diesel in a service station.

The same day, Machisa sent a profoma invoice of US$8,5 million to Petrotrade and another meeting was set for the next day, Friday last week.

Over the next 24 hours, investigations were made and NOIC said that the release order produced by the six was fake,and they had not received any instructions from Glencore Energy.

But the six went to Petrotrade on Friday last week for what they saw as the final meeting, only to be arrested.

According to the State, if the six had succeeded, Petrotrade would have lost US$8.5 million. The Herald